Why Do Bedlington Terriers Look Like Sheep? A Brief Explanation

Bedlington Terriers look like sheep primarily due to their distinctive, curly coat and pear-shaped head. These unique features are a result of selective breeding, aimed at creating a dog that is both functional and aesthetically appealing.

Historically, Bedlington Terriers were bred as working dogs in England, where their sheep-like appearance played a significant role in their duties. The curly, linty coat was designed to offer protection against rough terrain and harsh weather, while their slim, agile bodies helped them efficiently hunt vermin.

History of Bedlington Terriers

Bedlington Terriers are a breed of dog that originated in the town of Bedlington, Northumberland, in northeast England. The breed was developed in the 18th century by miners who used them for hunting vermin, such as rats and badgers.

The Bedlington Terrier’s exact ancestry is unknown, but it is believed to be a cross between various breeds, including the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Whippet, and Otterhound. The breed was originally known as the Rothbury Terrier, after the nearby town of Rothbury, but was later renamed the Bedlington Terrier.

In the early days, Bedlington Terriers were used for dog fighting, but as this became illegal, the breed was developed as a companion and show dog. The breed was recognized by the Kennel Club in 1877.

Bedlington Terriers are known for their unique appearance, compared to a lamb or sheep due to their curly, woolly coat, which is trimmed distinctively to accentuate their shape.

Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, Bedlington Terriers are known for their tenacity and bravery. Inexperienced owners may find them challenging since they can be stubborn at times. They are intelligent and trainable, but they can be stubborn at times.

Today, the Bedlington Terrier is a popular breed for those looking for a unique and loyal companion. As their ancestors were centuries ago, they are still used in some areas for hunting and vermin control.

Physical Characteristics of Bedlington Terriers

Bedlington Terriers are small to medium-sized dogs known for their unique appearance. They have a distinctive woolly coat that often makes them look like sheep, and here are some physical characteristics of Bedlington Terriers:

  • Size: Bedlington Terriers typically weigh between 17 and 23 pounds and stand 15 to 17.5 inches tall at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Their coat is thick and curly, with a mix of soft and harsh hair, and can be a range of colors, including blue, liver, sandy, and tan.
  • Head: The head of a Bedlington Terrier is pear-shaped, with a narrow skull and a long, tapering muzzle, and have small, triangular ears that fold over at the tips.
  • Body: They have a long, lean body with a deep chest and a tucked-up waist, and their legs are straight and muscular, and their feet are small and compact.
  • Tail: Their tail is thin and tapered, usually carried low.

Bedlington Terriers have a unique appearance that sets them apart from other breeds. Their woolly coat and distinctive head shape make them look like miniature sheep, but despite their appearance, they are active and playful dogs that make great pets.

Describe the distinctive features of Bedlington Terriers

Bedlington Terriers are a unique breed of dog often referred to as a “lamb in dog’s clothing” due to their distinctive appearance. Here are some of the key features that make Bedlington Terriers stand out:

  1. Woolly, curly coat: One of the most distinctive features of Bedlington Terriers is their curly, woolly coat. This coat is not unique in appearance, but it also serves a practical purpose by providing the dog with insulation and protection from the elements. The coat can come in various colors: blue, liver, and sandy.
  2. Arched back and high tail set: Another key feature of Bedlington Terriers is their arched back and high tail set. This gives them a distinctive silhouette and contributes to their graceful and elegant appearance.
  3. Lamb-like appearance, including a rounded head and eyes: The most striking feature of Bedlington Terriers is their lamb-like appearance, due to their rounded head and eyes, which give them a sweet and friendly expression. Additionally, their muzzle is tapered and their ears are small and triangular, adding to their cute and cuddly appearance.

Bedlington Terriers are a unique and charming dog breed that will turn heads wherever they go. Whether you’re looking for a loyal companion or a show dog, the Bedlington Terrier is sure to impress with its distinctive appearance and friendly personality.

Compare and Contrast with Other Terrier Breeds and Dog Breeds in General

Bedlington Terriers are often compared to other terrier breeds due to their similar size and shape, however, their distinct appearance sets them apart from other terriers and dog breeds.

One of the most notable differences between Bedlington Terriers and other terrier breeds is their woolly coat resembling a lamb or sheep. This unique coat sets them apart from breeds such as the Jack Russell Terrier or the Scottish Terrier, which have short, wiry coats. Additionally, Bedlington Terriers have a distinctive pear-shaped head and a long, narrow muzzle, which further distinguishes them from other terriers.

Compared to other dog breeds, Bedlington Terriers share some similarities with Poodles, which also have curly, woolly coats. However, Poodles have a more refined appearance, with a more delicate bone structure and a less muscular build. Bedlington Terriers, on the other hand, have a more athletic build and a more rugged appearance.

Another breed that shares similarities with Bedlington Terriers is the Old English Sheepdog, which has a woolly coat and a similar pear-shaped head. However, Old English Sheepdogs are much larger than Bedlington Terriers and have a fuzzy appearance.

Temperament and Personality

Bedlington Terriers are known for their charming and affectionate personalities. They are intelligent, loyal, and playful dogs who love being around their owners, and have a reputation for being great family dogs, as they are gentle with children and get along well with other pets.

These dogs are also known for their calm and composed nature. They are not prone to barking excessively or being overly aggressive, making them great apartment dogs, but they need regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

Bedlington Terriers are also known for their independent streak. They are intelligent dogs that can be trained easily but can also be stubborn sometimes. Therefore, it is important to establish yourself as the pack leader early on to prevent any behavior problems from arising.

Overall, Bedlington Terriers make great pets for anyone looking for a loyal, affectionate, and calm companion. They are great with children and other pets, and their independent nature makes them easy to train and care for.

Purposeful Breeding

Bedlington Terriers’ unique appearance is not a result of evolution or coincidence; instead, it is the product of purposeful human breeding.

Selective Breeding

Selective breeding is a process where breeders choose individuals with desired traits to mate, to produce offspring with those traits. In the case of Bedlington Terriers, breeders selected dogs with a woolly coat, long head, and arched back to create the breed’s distinctive appearance. Over time, this selective breeding led to a breed resembling a lamb or sheep.

Breeders’ Intention

The breeders intended to create a dog that was both a skilled hunter and a companion animal. They wanted a dog with a unique appearance that could easily blend in with sheep, allowing it to sneak up on prey without being detected. Additionally, the breeders wanted a loyal, affectionate, and trainable dog, making it an excellent companion for families.


Breeders crossed various breeds to achieve the desired appearance and traits, including the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Whippet, and Otterhound. These crosses helped to refine the breed’s appearance, making it more sheep-like while maintaining its hunting abilities and gentle nature.

In conclusion, Bedlington Terriers’ unique appearance results from purposeful human breeding. Breeders selected dogs with specific traits and crossed them with other breeds to create a dog that was both a skilled hunter and a loyal companion with a distinctive, sheep-like appearance.